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Saturday's Report


11:00 AM

Better late than never, we're up and running at Castrol Raceway in sunny-ish Edmonton. After a long and frustrating day yesterday that ended before it really began with a complete washout of the pro show, we've come back this morning, and so far have got things rolling with the sportsman cars hitting the track starting about 30 minutes ago.

Overnight rains in the area didn't miss the track, as everything was still very wet this morning and it took some serious work with the jet drier to bring the surface back to a raceable condition. Once that was attended to, it was time for another session of water weeping up through the track to be dealt with and that pushed the program back more than 30 minutes. Not too bad a start, and at least we've started, but the situation may crop up again if the sun really breaks through and puts some serious heat into the asphalt. Keep your fingers crossed.

The racing schedule today is similar to yesterday's, with the addition of a ThunderFest (mass fireup of the nitro cars in the pits) at 6:00 pm, the first round of the pro cars at 7:00 pm and the final round, the Komatsu Night of Fire, planned to start at 9:15 pm. If we can get it all done tonight without the weather intruding, the bad taste of yesterday's cancellation will easily be erased.

With nearly six hours until something serious happens for the fuel and alky cars, I guess it's time to go for a wander through the pits and see what's happening. Next update when we have some more news.

1:30 PM

We've finished qualifying for Top Dragster and Top Sportsman, and now while the other sportsman classes continue their qualifying and eliminations, we've come back up to the media centre to work on the photos from this morning. Even some action shots are being posted for almost the first time this weekend. It's going to take a while to get them all processed, but we've got most of the afternoon to do so, as the real show doesn't get going until the ThunderFest starts rattling the ground, eardrums and brains at 6 pm.

If something big happens this afternoon, we'll report it, but for now we'll leave you with some media releases from the pro racers, courtesy of our good friends at SpeedZone Magazine. Note that as we add to this page throughout the day, the releases will move lower on the page, but they won't be deleted. Just give your scrolling finger a bit of exercise and you'll find them.

2:30 PM

Due to last night's washout, they've just announced an addition to this afternoon's program: the Pro Mods and Alcohol Funny Cars will get a qualifying session starting shortly, in addition to their two previously scheduled qualifiers tonight. We're off to the staging lanes as the cars are coming up soon. That's all for now.

5:00 PM

We've got a bit of time before the fanfest and thunderfest start at 5:30 and then are followed by the first round of the Nitro Jam at 7:00 pm. The evening continues with the "Night of Fire" which is also the second round of the Nitro Jam, starting at 9:15 pm and finishes with the twin jet trucks of Les and Kent Shockley. It's looking like we're going to be successful this evening unless the weeping track syndrome breaks out again and no one is breathing a word about it at the moment.

We were able to witness a "bonus" round of qualifying for the Pro Mods, Pro Nostalgia Funny Cars, and the Alcohol Funny Cars an hour or so ago. While the pro mods were pretty much underwhelming, the nostalgia floppers a little less so, then the top alky floppers turned up the volume and lit up the scoreboards in a performance display that made up for the previous two groups. We can only hope that everyone gets going a bunch quicker and faster this evening.

The track looks fine, with a very sticky starting line, but the problems experienced earlier by the blown and nitrous cars were occuring early, middle and late on their runs, so no particular area of the asphalt or concrete could be faulted. A lack of serious rubber further downtrack could be part of the problem, but a combination of unfamiliarity with the surface this season by most of the racers, and no tuneup runs in similar conditions recently are probably more likely causes of the weak and aborted runs.

We've got lots of photos, and we certainly won't be able to post all of them tonight but it's time to get started and do as much as we can before the night qualifying sessions get started. Until later tonight, keep an eye on Drag Race Central for the results.

10:05 PM

The staging lanes are starting to fill for the "Night of Fire" session of this Saturday night Nitro Jam. We're running late but the weather is holding well and the capacity crowd isn't starting to leave yet. Looks like everyone is going to hang in until the last burner pop (jet trucks side-by-side close out the show).

We just won't have time to post any more photos tonight, and at the rate we're taking them and the clock is ticking, we'll be lucky to have the event coverage finished by Tuesday. But we're going to give it our best shot. Stay tuned and we'll get something more done tonight and lots more tomorrow. In the meantime, just head over to the old faithful: Drag Race Central for the latest results and reports.

12:10 AM

Yes, they're still racing in Edmonton at late night Castrol Raceway. While it was pretty cool watching nitro funny cars running under the lights, by the time the top fuel dragsters ran it was getting downright cold and miserable. Half an hour later we're watching nitro harleys assault the track and our eardrums, while the jet trucks are getting ready in the staging lanes.

With any luck and no more breakage, we just might see this all-night drag race come to a merciful conclusion by 12:30 am. Then it's barely eight hours before we start all over again in the morning. Pray for rain? tornadoes? locusts? or all of the above?

Before I fall down on the desk here I'm going to sign off and try to pick up the threads of my Saturday report in the morning, then get right into Sunday's coverage. Photos? Oh, don't even go there. We're about 300 behind already and that total will get bigger before it gets much smaller. Oh well, there's always next weekend, because I'm not going anywhere near a drag strip next week. Good night/good morning from Castrol Raceway.




Mill Road Boys Edmonton preview

(courtesy SpeedZone Magazine)

Steve Nichols Mill Road Boys '70 Camaro nitro funny car

Steve Nichols and the Mill Road Boys Prostalgia Funny Car team have had a wild last week drag racing in the West. They competed at Salt Lake for the first time last weekend for that cityís inaugural Nitro Jam. Running in over 7000 feet of air it was a test of metal, mettle, patience and everything in between.

They wounded their all-new hemi combination on Friday and had to thrash overnight to install the trusty Chevy bullet to get ready for Saturday. They accomplished that goal and went out and ran well to end the weekend. Then the dilemma started. Would they be able to get the hemi fixed in time for the race the following weekend at Edmonton, while in transit? The team always like to have a spare for any event, but both the spare for the hemi and the Chevy were in for repairs already.

It was not like the team could do all the necessary shipping from their home base, since it is 3000 miles away in Delaware. Steve, with the assistance of Crew Chief Ray Zeller, had repaired blocks shipped, damaged pieces sent to the repair shops, new camshafts ground, new connecting rods machined and all of it was sent to Great Bend, Montana, just on the south side of the US-Canadian border by Thursday morning.

"Without the dedication of crew Chief Ray we would have never made the Edmonton race, and it is a race that I committed to right at the beginning of the season" stated Steve when he arrived in Edmonton on Thursday evening. "I wasnít about to back out, but it was touch and go for a while".

Steve really wants to thank Lee Jennings for the parts he helped out with; Brian and his team at GRP connecting rods; John at Bullet Cams; Race Tech, Ackerly & Childs, and Dan Olsen Racing Products for all their hard work to get the necessary parts back to the team for this weekendís event at Edmonton.

"The Rocky Mountain Nitro Jam Nationals is an event we have heard about for a couple of years, and we definitely wanted to make sure to attend this race. We are leading the points, so that added to the pressure for us to make the race. When the team arrived at Edmonton, Ray and the crew: Robert Raymond, Jeff Moore and Shawn Gealy thrashed to get the hemi built and put between the frame rails", continued Nichols.

"It has been a bit of a learning curve with the hemi but we are so close to making it haul the mail that we feel its important to keep on refining the tune-up on it. It is funny to say getting back to a more 'normal' elevation like Edmonton, but when you compare the 2000 - 3000 feet of air at Edmonton versus the 7000+ feet at Salt Lake to is like getting back to normal".

The hemi will be in the car for Friday night for sure and we canít wait to perform for the fans in the Great White North. We put on over 2500 miles in the last five days picking up parts and making detours to get to this race and we want to finish the West coast swing off in style" Nichols concluded.



Verenka Racing Edmonton preview

(courtesy SpeedZone Magazine)

Ed Verenka Pro Fuel Dragster

Home town guy Ed Verenka is out for the first time in 2010 competing in the newly formed Pro Fuel class at the Rocky Mountain Nitro Jam Nationals. Ed and Wife Sharon have competed sporadically in the Northwest for the last decade and a half competing with a Blown Alochol Dragster for the first few years, and then in A/Fuel since 2000.

This year, Ed has planned a bit more energetic schedule beginning this weekend at the Rocky Mountain Nitro Jam. The Pro Fuel class is in essence an A/Fuel Dragster with little or no rules. They have no percentage restrictions and they can run a clutch management system similar to Top Fuel.

Ed has run in the Top Fuel class at prior events here at Edmonton and has run very well. In fact he has the quickest elapsed time for an A/Fuel car (5.34) in IHRA competition prior to the introduction of the new Pro Fuel class. Ed's goal for this season is to get a solid baseline for the A/Fuel car and have his daughter Crystal get behind the wheel and get licensed by the end of the season.

He will then work on putting together his new Top Fuel car and have that ready for next season. Being from Leduc, Alberta, Ed knows how important this weekendís event is, and he is looking forward to competing against cars that are similar in performance. In the past he has always raced against the Top Fuel cars at Edmonton, and it was like a Ferrari racing a VW. His run could be perfect but you know even an average run by the TF car will result in Ed heading home early.

With three other A/Fuel cars and two blown alcohol dragsters to race against, it is a much more level playing field and may the guy (or girl) with the best tuneup win. Ed stated that "We are really looking forward to racing here this weekend in front of our fans. We have a real good car that we think can compete against anyone. We'll see by Sunday afternoon who has their car dialled in the best".

He continued, "That being said for as much as I am looking forward to competing this weekend, I am really looking forward to having my daughter get behind the wheel and get her license. She puts in so much time working on the car and has shown a keen interest and knowledge that she is the natural choice to step into the car".

The team is trying a few things this weekend that will adapt to their new Top Fuel car as well as the current A/Fuel Dragster, which will give them data once they get the new car together. Edís team this weekend will include Rex Jones, Peter Brodeur, Nolan Brodeur, Phil Sequin, and Cathy Sequin.




Nemeth Prostalgia Racing Edmonton preview

(courtesy SpeedZone Magazine)

Tim Nemeth

Tim Nemeth is very excited about this weekendís Rocky Mountain Nitro Jam Nationals at Castrol Raceway. This is Timís first foray into IHRA drag racing, and he gets to debut in the province where he grew up. This weekendís event will see Tim debut his brand new Mustang Nostalgia Nitro Funny Car in the Prostalgia class.

After a year of testing in 2009, he ran a number of 6.0ís at over 230 mph, so his car is certainly competitive. Tim, for the last two decades has been competing in the Northwest in a competitive Top Alcohol Funny Car, but when the Nostalgia craze hit the floppers, he made the decision to build a '69 Mustang with an Alan Johnson Hemi.

He and wife Nancy still have their TA/FC, but they put it in the shop and are concentrating on nitro for at least this year. Running against some of the best nitro floppers this weekend will be a great test of their teamís ability. Five of the cars this weekend have run in the 5-second zone, and two of those are multiple winners in the IHRA already this season.

"We know we have tough competition this weekend, but we also know we have the parts and tune up information to compete. We will fit right in and will likely surprise a few people. We are here to put on a show for our friends from southern Alberta and all the fans this weekend. I canít wait to get my first hit down this race track", stated Tim after his warm-up Friday afternoon.

Tim and wife Nancy would like to thank his crew: Dale, Fred, Pete, Mike, Greg, Lance and Kole. The team receives corporate support from TDN Constructors Group, Barry Hamel Equipment and Hodgson Heavy Duty.




That's it from Castrol Raceway for the second day of qualifying from the IHRA Rocky Mountain Nationals